Friday, December 28, 2012

The Cabinet discusses the formation of the new state of West Virginia

The Cabinet met on December 26 to discuss the new state of West Virginia.

Residents of the western part of Virginia had opposed secession. They formed what was known as the Restored Government of Virginia. They had petitioned to the federal government to form their own new Union state of West Virginia.

The Senate had approved the bill for statehood on July 14 which included the Willey Amendment.  The amendment called for children of slave born after July 4, 1863 would be free; at that slaves under the age of ten would be free at age 25; and that no slave could be allowed to come into the state to live there.

The House of Representatives approved a similar bill on December 10, approving the formation of the Union states without abolishing slavery.

It was up to President Lincoln to decide whether to sign the legislation.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Word of the losses at Fredericksburg reach the president

Mr. Lincoln received word that Major General Ambrose Burnside's Army of the Potomac was badly beaten at Fredericksburg in the battle on December 13. The Union army suffered nearly 13,000 casualties.

The president asked General Halleck to order General Burnside to withdraw.  Halleck refused, telling the president that he thought the commanding officer at the battle site needed to make that decision himself.  The president agreed.

During the week there was a confrontation in the cabinet. The result was that cabinet secretaries Salmon Chase, Secretary of Treasury; William Seward, Secretary of State; and Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War all offered their resignations.  All of the resignations were eventually denied. The president's comments on the situation was as follows: "The public interest does not admit of it. I therefore have to request that you will resume the duties of your departments respectively."

Friday, December 14, 2012

The president responds to congressional questions

Mr. Lincoln responded to Congress this week. Congress asked about his actions in the Minnesota Indian Uprising.

The chief executive provided information on December 11 concerning the actions of over three hundred Indians in their attack of a white settlement. Mr. Lincoln told them he had reviewed the transcripts and explained, "Anxious to not act with so much clemency as to encourage another outbreak on the one hand, nor with so much severity as to be real cruelty on the other. I caused a careful examination of the record of the trials."

He also responded to a request this week by New York Congressman Fernando Wood who aligned himself with the Southern Democrats.  Congressman Wood asked the president to consider a negotiated peace. The president said any serious effort for peace required that the Southern states stop their rebellion and rejoin the United States. And thus he rejected the congressman's proposal.

Friday, December 7, 2012

President Lincoln delivers his message to Congress

On December 1, President Lincoln delivered his Second Annual Message to Congress.  Here is what he said.

He called for three new amendments to the Constitution.  1) Every state that abolishes slavery before January 1, 1900 shall receive compensation from the United States.  2) All slaves who shall have enjoyed actual freedom by chances of war shall be forever free. 3) Congress may appropriate money and otherwise provide for colonizing free colored persons with their own consent at any place outside the United States.

He also notified Congress that foreign relations were more satisfactory than expected.  The treaty with Great Britain for suppression of the slave trade was in operation.Negro colonies in the United States might soon migrate to Haiti and Liberia. Progress continues on the building of the Pacific railroad.

In further action, the president responded to the military sentencing of 303 Dakota Indians to death for killing military personnel and civilians in Minnesota.  The president read the trial testimony and then rescinded the death sentences of all but 39 of the Indians.